PLEASE USE PROPER SOURCES AND CITATIONS ALSO PLEASE FOLLOW FORMAT PRINTED IN THIS POST.
Choose a challenging scientific article from a scientific journal that relates to a marine biology topic that interests you.
Please follow the guidelines below to complete your scientific review:

Preparing a Review:

Open the library page, find Article Databases and click on it.
On that page, scroll down to Science Direct.
In the upper row, there is a longer box with a space for your request and a place to indicate that you would like “All Full Text Resources.”

Typing in “physical factors and coral” and came up with 19 hits.

Scrolling down the list, I chose the article for the sample review:

“An aquarium experiment for identifying the physical factors inducing morphological change in two massive scleractinian corals.” in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
When you find the article that interests you, click on the link for the PDF version of the article. This will show you the article as it was published.
Follow the example below to write your review.

Citation: Todd, P.A. et al. An aquarium experiment for identifying the physical factors inducing morphological change in two massive scleractinian corals. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 299 (2004): 97-113.

Note: You must supply the full and correct citation and whenever possible, a copy of a hotlink to the article itself. Your classmates will want to read the actual article along with your review.

Summation: Prior research has shown that some species of coral are phenotypically plastic, but no controlled experiments had yet been done in a laboratory setting to try to determine the role of different environmental factors in eliciting morphological change. Researchers collected fragments of coral from different species of coral and grew them in different aquaria designed to represent varied light intensity, sedimentation rates and water current strength. The corals were analyzed for morphological changes after 4 months of controlled growing experiments. They concluded that the most consistent morphological change seemed to be in response to light intensity.

Original source: Scientists from Scotland, Singapore, and Japan carried out this research at the Raffles Marina Research Station off the coast of Singapore.What was studied: Fragments of different coral species were put in controlled laboratory experiments designed to distinguish phenotypic changes due to one or another environmental factor. Since the fragments were from the same coral colony, they were clones of each other and therefore had the same genotype. Change in response to an environmental factor could then be known to be due to a change in phenotype. This is the coral equivalent of twin studies in biology and psychology.

How the study was conducted: The interesting part of this experimental design was the attempts to leave clonal fragments under natural conditions, so as to have a comparison of any natural change in morphology over time. Many of these fragments were lost at sea and this highlights some of the difficulties of field studies in marine biology!

What was concluded: They concluded that the most consistent change in morphology was the result of light intensity.

New questions: Corals seem to be very affected by environmental stresses. The paper mentions concerns about increased sedimentation and about climate change caused by global warming. It would be interesting to include water temperature in the environmental factors studied in the aquaria.

My opinion: After 4 months, the aquarium pump broke down and the study was prematurely ended. It is interesting to see that as long as a study is well-designed, something positive can be learned from it even when it doesn’t go as planned. In this case, the scientists learned more about the practical aspects of running the study, but also could have more reason to focus on light as a prime mover of phenotypic response.This paper also highlights how little is known about coral biology, the roles, triggers, and biology of phenotypic plasticity in coral. There is also not much known yet about the ecology of phenotypic plasticity. This paper mentions that corals that are plastic are thought to be generalists. However, the cost and benefits of this trait are not yet clear in terms of evolutionary success and role in the community.

GlossaryBe sure to use the college resources when building your glossary.
Genotype: (commentary Week 3) “Genotype refers to the genetic make-up of the individual…” and the organism’s DNA make-up.This is a very important word in this article. Because the coral fragments were genotypically the same, the researchers were able to reason that any differences they saw in the individuals were a phenotypic adaptation to the environmental conditions.
Phenotypically plastic: Plastic means adaptable or malleable. See the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This concept is very important for understanding this study. With the same genotype, organisms showed different phenotypes under different environmental conditions. A phenotype refers to the physical result of a certain genotype.

 

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